取自 BBC

JAKARTA, INDONESIA — A third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — popularly dubbed the ‘booster’ shot — is slated to be rolled out to over a million medical workers in Indonesia in a bid to further boost immunity among one of the most vulnerable groups in the pandemic, particularly in the midst of the Delta variant’s rapid spread.

As many as 50 lecturers at the Faculty of Medical Science from the University of Indonesia were the first recipients of this mRNA booster. The Moderna vaccine was used in the ‘booster’ shot process.

During his visit to the rollout process at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital on 16 July, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin expressed his hope that with the senior staff’s take-up of the booster shot, their juniors will follow suit.

“We hope that our medical workers will receive the third shot as soon as possible so they are protected and can work more comfortably,” he added.

The administration of the third dose came following concerns that China’s Sinovac was less effective against a reportedly more highly transmissible Delta variant that has infected more than 96 countries so far as of 5 July, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s data.

The surge in the numbers of the COVID-19 daily cases in Indonesia—particularly among medical workers who are infected with the virus despite being vaccinated against it—triggers doubts over the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine.

The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) said that from February to May, 14 out of 61 doctors who died from the COVID-19 had received the vaccination.

As the virus continues to mutate and infect more people worldwide, the next question is whether a booster is needed for everyone or only for certain groups of people such as medical workers, the elderly, or people with co-morbidities.

Dr Jacob Wesley Ulm, a medical researcher and physician at Harvard Medical Institute, told TOC in a Skype interview on 18 July that “the weight of accumulating evidence and the mounting hazards posed by the Delta variant” — on top of the possible risks from the the Lambda and Theta variants — suggest that a booster likely will be needed.

“Immunity wanes over time, and the variants are more resilient and tough. We don’t know (what) the interval before a booster is needed after the initial vaccination sequence (would be), but yes, six months is likely given the initial results thus far,” he said.

WHO statement on mixing COVID-19 vaccine unlikely to affect Indonesia’s ‘booster’ shot plan

The WHO said that there is limited data on the efficacy of mixing COVID-19 vaccines.

“Individuals should not decide for themselves, public health agencies can, based on available data. Data from mix and match studies of different vaccines are awaited – immunogenicity and safety both need to be evaluated,” WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan tweeted on 13 July.

Dr Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokeswoman for Indonesia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme at the Health Ministry, told a press conference that Indonesia was ready to give a third dose to medical workers based on the study from the Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ITAGI).

“ITAGI has conducted a study regarding the booster, and we should see recommendations from the U.K Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation about who can receive the third booster, namely, people aged 18 years old and over who are immunosuppressed, medical workers, and people over 70 years old,” the expert said in a press conference on 18 July.

As of 21 July, 16,606,675 Indonesians have received their second COVID-19 jab, according to official data.

Several countries are considering mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines 

Thailand said on 12 July that it would use AstraZeneca for the second shot for those who were first vaccinated with Sinovac.

Vietnam is planning to administer AstraZeneca for the first jab and Pfizer-BioNTech for the second.

Two Gulf nations — United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain — have prepared the third dose using Pfizer-BioNTech to those previously inoculated with China-made Sinopharm, Reuters reported.

Findings from a preliminary study in Spain showed that the combination of Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca was safe and effective.

However, Dr Ulm noted that the use of the ‘booster’ shot overall is “still at an experimental level”.

“So far, the research in Europe suggests that mixing vaccines would not be problematic, but we don’t yet have much data to go on,” he said.

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